Four arrested for allegedly attempting to sabotage Interpol criminal search system

International law enforcement has uncovered a criminal organization operating in Moldova suspected of attempting to sabotage a system that helps Interpol members locate and arrest wanted criminals worldwide.

Moldovan authorities, with help from French prosecutors and the FBI, said they conducted over 30 searches on Monday and detained four suspects linked to Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. 

The suspects allegedly attempted to misuse the Red Notice system, the international police agency's tool for alerting its 195 member countries about individuals who are wanted for prosecution or to serve a sentence based on an arrest warrant or court decision.

The suspected criminals "paid intermediaries and public figures in Moldova to inform wanted criminals of their Red Notice status," said Moldova’s anticorruption chief Veronica Dragalin. Interpol also detected attempts to "block and delete" the notices. The detained individuals are also suspected of committing cybercrimes that caused millions of dollars in damages.

Moldova’s branch of Radio Free Europe reported that the alleged sums paid by the perpetrators of this scheme amount to several million dollars.

The U.K. National Crime Agency (NCA) also said that it uncovered the identities of key individuals in Moldova who received bribes from members of the criminal network. The NCA hasn’t disclosed their names.

“These corrupt officials abused their positions to provide a service that enabled some of the world’s most serious criminals to attempt to operate, travel freely, and evade detection by law enforcement,” said Paul Foster, NCA director of threat leadership.

After detecting the attempted criminal activity, Interpol said it has introduced “additional measures” to ensure the system is safe and to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Over 70,000 people are subject to Interpol’s Red Notices, according to the agency’s secretary genera,l Jürgen Stock.

“While we are confident in the strength of our systems, we do not tolerate misuse of any kind,” he said.

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Daryna Antoniuk

Daryna Antoniuk

is a reporter for Recorded Future News based in Ukraine. She writes about cybersecurity startups, cyberattacks in Eastern Europe and the state of the cyberwar between Ukraine and Russia. She previously was a tech reporter for Forbes Ukraine. Her work has also been published at Sifted, The Kyiv Independent and The Kyiv Post.